In the Kitchen
Pizza on Fire: January-February 2014
By Tom Stankiewicz
Specialty pies - Strategies for adding recipes to your menu that will be keepers
By Tom Stankiewicz
There are many reasons a new pizza recipe gets added to the existing menu.
There are many reasons a new pizza recipe gets added to the existing menu. Some operators use a new offering as a strategy to increase their sales by bringing in new customers. Others listen closely to their customers, and based on their feedback, decide that the pizza menu needs to be refreshed. Yet another pizza owner might create a new pizza to enter into the pizza competitions. Over the years, our team has created many new pizza recipes for various reasons. Through those experiences, we have realized that there is always a right place and a right time to create and present the new pie.
I’m sure we all have noticed that some pizza recipes become more successful than others. For one reason or another, certain
pizzas become so popular and such favourites that customers expect every pizzeria to offer them. For instance, there might be a slight variation when it comes to its taste and presentation but overall the deluxe pizza is the same in all pizzerias. What is the secret of a successful pizza recipe?
Without a doubt, a truly successful pizza recipe must meet certain criteria. The most important one is that it needs to be cost effective. The recipe may still be very creative; however, it’s important to select pizza toppings that are not too exotic. Usually, their prices are higher and they will decrease your profit by a bigger margin. Additionally, unusual toppings might be difficult to find when required as not many stores or suppliers will offer them. This could result in a negative customer experience if you have to inform a customer that your specialty pizza will be missing two main toppings due to unavailability.
If there is a pizza topping that absolutely must be included in the new recipe, first research and find out how easily it can be obtained. Through my conversations with other pizzaiolos, I have learned that many of us have created wonderful and tasty pizza recipes and then later on had to adjust the recipes and eliminate toppings that were difficult to locate.
The other criteria closely related to cost effectiveness is efficiency. In order for the pizza store to be at its best and be highly profitable, it needs to be managed effecttively. This means that every employee must be trained well and takes the same amount of time as everyone else to prepare a pizza. During busy times, the expectation is that everyone be able to move easily from one workstation to the next without any major complications. The next person in line should easily be able to complete an unfinished pizza. This ensures that all pizza orders flow smoothly through the line and your operational efficiency is at its best.
The introduction of a highly specialized pizza recipe might create a wrinkle in this smooth process. From my own experience, I can tell you that preparing it will take longer than making any other standard pizza. Depending on the complexity of the specialty recipe, it might require triple the amount of time it normally takes to make a pizza.
One reason for the longer time is simply to ensure that it is done to perfection. In addition, it is very likely that not all employees will know how to make it the right way. This could be caused by many factors beyond anyone’s control. The specialty pizza might not be ordered frequently enough for employees to familiarize themselves with the recipe. As well, most employees are not full-time workers and the fact they put in fewer work hours might contribute to their lack of knowledge about the pizza recipe.
You may find, as we did over time, that it is simply not practical to keep some of your pizza recipes on the menu. Even though we created highly successful – even award-winning – recipes in competitions, our current business model did not provide the right place and time for them to thrive. One of the pizzas we introduced was at its best when consumed within 10 minutes of coming out of the oven. Since at this time we offer only takeout and delivery, we realized that our customers could not fully appreciate its taste and toppings combination. However, we know that in the right place, which ideally would be a dining room setting, this recipe would continue to be highly successful.
Adding a new pizza recipe to your menu can be rewarding but also challenging at times. We all know that the classic Canadian and deluxe pizzas have passed the test of time and customers love them.
Who knows, maybe your new pizza recipe will be the next sensation.
Tom Stankiewicz has been in the pizza business for more than 15 years. He has been the proprietor of Bondi’s Pizza in London, Ont., since 2000 and is president of the Canadian Pizza Team.